If you are anything like me, then you thoroughly enjoyed playing My Time At Portia. It had its similarities to other crafting and farming games, but it also stood apart with strength as a title that introduced players to the life simulation genre. There was a unique story to go with it, allowing those of us who preferred a good mix of creating, farming, gathering, and enjoying an immersive world to have a truly well-rounded experience. It has been a few years since My Time At Portia was released, and since then the developers have had more in store for fans.
Originally intended to be released as a DLC, My Time At Sandrock is the upcoming sequel to My Time At Portia and it manages to improve upon its predecessor while retaining many of the qualities that made us fans in the first place. I was able to spend the week crafting away to my heart’s content in an early access copy of the game, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed.
The first thing I noticed in the game was the vastly improved character creation. I felt like there was a good range of options, both in terms of customizable color and style. I played around with my character’s hair for a good while, and of course, gave myself some sparkly heart eyes. If you felt like customization was lacking in the game’s predecessor, you will be pleasantly surprised here.
Following the character creation, you will be introduced to the new world. Players may now explore the beautiful new Eufaula Desert where the humble town of Sandrock resides. Unfortunately, the people of Sandrock rely on a dwindling supply of water from Martle’s Oasis, a natural spring that had previously been bustling and capable of providing more than enough water to the town. Basically, poor management and pollution have left it a shadow of its former self. This means that Martle’s Oasis is in need of serious repair, leaving the player’s character to gather the resources necessary for its fixing.
The map itself is bigger than My Time At Portia’s by almost 50%, and is no longer covered by the large sea that took up much of the previous map’s space. Instead, players will find the world populated by relics and ruins that are open for exploration. While the terrain and environments are not as lush, they do bring a new desert vibe and with it an entirely new setting to support the story.
Your character arrives with nothing of their own other than the small, shabby workshop where they will reside. Just like the farmhouse in My Time At Portia, this workshop is upgradeable and open for your player to decorate! I spent most of my time focusing on placing and upgrading my machinery outside, but I cannot wait to spruce up my living area a little more and make it feel less run down.
As water is not very abundant, you will have to keep up with your supply and make sure it stays topped up. This was one of the mechanics that I found a bit annoying in the game, but it honestly adds to the immersion as it lines up with the story. It also adds a little more depth to the crafting since you need to fuel your machinery while also watching the water tank’s supply so that it does not deplete.
Thankfully, other resources in Sandrock are abundant even if the land looks barren. You can spend some time kicking a tumbleweed around for fiber, or you can scavenge through a pile of junk for various pieces. Plants are scattered throughout the world that provide different matierls, and if you need anything else you can dive into the mines. Farming is another fun, resource-rich aspect of My Time At Sandrock. You will be able to use the land to cultivate and grow crops that you can use in recipes or sell.
Timing is not too important with the main objectives as you can take them as slowly as you would like to. This makes the game feel more relaxing, and it also gives you time to pick up other side quests to do for money or resources. I really liked the steady pace and ended up making myself a schedule in-game that worked, jumping between the primary and secondary missions. By doing commissions for characters, I was also able to befriend them much more quickly than simply chatting daily. This gives even more incentive to pick up requests from the board. Other quests will call for you to repair things for the government, like faulty bridges or new elevators.
While the timing is up to you for bigger things like quests for the main story, commissions you pick up for townsfolk will have limits so you will need to finish them within a certain amount of days. Some of them will call for more resources and less time, but the rewards will be greater in turn.
A really useful change in My Time At Sandrock has been the inventory and machinery management. You can switch between different storage chests quickly once you have opened one rather than needing to go to the others manually. Machines and worktables also keep track of your quests and let you know what you need to build for it and how many of a certain thing you will need.
Sandrock does not shy away from combat, and you will be able to encounter various strange enemies that will leave you wondering… did I just defeat a lizard bandit? The answer will be yes. You will be able to switch between melee combat and ranged combat, a feature I found to be a great improvement. As usual, you can craft your weapons and defensive items (e.g. shields). Get ready to feel like a cowboy knight running around the desert with guns and swords.
The new world boasts 40 unique characters that you can build up a relationship with. They did not forget to include the fan-favorite animal NPCs. Get ready to meet and fall in love with Captain, the eternally grumpy kitty roaming Sandrock.
The townsfolk all have unique personalities and there are storylines to go with them. Pen, Sandrock’s very own “superhero,” is just one example of a character with many quirks. There is also the excitable Elsie working on her father’s farm, hard-headed Cooper, protective Justice, and more. I felt like characters definitely had a bit more spark to them in Sandrock than in Portia.
There are other small features throughout the gameplay that made me smile. If your character is too much of a night owl and they stay up past midnight, they may wake up with some dark circles underneath their eyes! This was a cute surprise for me, and made the game more immersive. It was little details like this one that really caught my eye and demonstrated how the team has been striving to make the sequel more of a fun experience for players.
Ultimately, this game feels like a solid sequel. While it is not a huge change from My Time At Portia, I feel like that is part of what makes the game so attractive to me as a fan of the original. Changes were made in some good places and things were improved upon to make an overall better experience. I feel that the world map’s change and the storyline themselves let this game stand alone as a follow-up to its predecessor.
If My Time At Sandrock sounds like the sequel you have been waiting for, be sure to check it out upon release this Friday on May 26. There will be more to look forward to than just their initial release, as they have multiplayer and other new features planned for the future. If you have not yet played the original title, no worries. You can start with Sandrock!